It’s been a long-standing trend to note how public relations (PR) has been dead for years. Literally for years. Over the past few months, the topic has popped up again more frequently when mixed in with concerns about the validity of news from traditional media outlets and the abundance of user-generated content online today.

Digital Graveyard

Skipping to the punchline, no PR is not dead. If you believe that PR is dead, then you have a misperception of what PR can encompass. For many years, the terms media relations and PR have been used interchangeably, though they really never should be. A narrow definition of PR that strictly focuses on the (important) skill of defining story angles and obtaining placement in major media outlets doesn’t capture the overall function which is:

The business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institutionMerriam Webster Dictionary

Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. – Public Relations Society of America

Nowhere in there is a mandate to use traditional media channels. The goal of public relations is communicating and establishing strong relationships. This is otherwise known as reputation. Each organization has a reputation and it shapes every interaction that a prospective customer, partner, or employee has with that entity. If you’re not working to maintain and positively enhance that reputation you’re ignoring a primary factor on bottom-line success.

When talking about PR, the following efforts all play a role in integrated success:

To maximize the impact of PR, these programs work together to build the mutually beneficial relationships that all organizations seek. Once a desired brand position is defined, every action whether online or offline has an impact on how that organizational brand is perceived. An ideal integrated program features offline activities (community events, sponsorships, traditional media placements) that spark interest in the organization. Those efforts can be funneled to drive interested audiences online to take the next step in engagement with your brand (landing page with a call to action, social media engagement/follow to learn more, downloading content that helps them fill a need) and cultivating a positive reputation.

PR is not dead but alive and well, actually thriving in the digital era. Think of every opportunity, online or offline, to enhance the reputation of your organization and build digital influence with key audiences.

To see examples of how integrated offline campaigns can drive results in the digital world, please contact us by filling out the form below.

Companies are under constant pressure of adapting their business or closing the doors for good. One company learned first-hand how avoiding change and ignoring market trends can lead to an unfortunate demise.

Kodak: The Inventor of the First Digital Camera

Founded in 1888, Kodak dominated the market for cameras, film, chemicals and paper for nearly a century. The company represented everything photography was in people’s minds – the fun, the memories, the technology and the Kodak moment.

In 1975 Kodak was a pioneer in creating the first digital camera.

Unfortunately, their team underestimated consumers’ desire for a convenient, easy-to-use camera that didn’t require film. Instead of releasing the digital camera and introducing new technology to the world, Kodak chose to keep the technology under wraps for fear that it would hurt their film sales.

Film was Kodak’s most profitable product, so when the executive team made the decision to focus on film and keep the digital camera an internal project, they thought they were protecting the company’s future. However they learned the hard way that companies can’t ignore trends and consumer demand.

If you don’t Do It, Your Competitors Will

Around the same time Kodak was improving its digital camera technology, two other camera manufacturers happily stepped up to the plate and released digital cameras for sale to the public. Sony and Canon started selling cameras in the early 1980s. By the time the team at Kodak realized they needed to enter the digital age whether they wanted to or not, the competition was too fierce for Kodak to catch up.

Kodak’s marketing myopia was the start of a downward slope for the company. Kodak has since attempted to regain its market share and restore its public perception, but its strategy misfire with the digital camera has left a scar that can’t be ignored.

When Sales Get Tough, It’s Time for a New Business Strategy

Kodak viewed itself as being in the business of film, so it wanted to protect the stable revenue from film sales. The company might have had a different experience had executives viewed themselves as being in the business of telling stories and providing customers with a way to share their memories. By asking the right questions and paying attention to consumer desires, companies can develop effective strategies that help navigate through uncertain times.

When organizations are having trouble meeting sales goals, it’s wise to explore one of the below business strategies for growth:

These strategies were created to help companies develop strong business models by aligning their company needs with consumer demand. If Kodak had embraced a product development business strategy to sell the digital camera to its current customer base, then it might still be the photography giant it once was.

When trends change, pay attention to what your target market is saying and adapt your business accordingly. Kodak learned the hard way, but you don’t have to. If you’re seeing a plateau with sales or a shift in market trends, give us a call at (651) 286-6700 to talk about a business strategy that could be the difference between making it and breaking it for your company.


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Victoria’s Secret is America’s largest retailer of women’s underwear, known for its lacey lingerie, floral negligee patterns and PINK brand. Even though Victoria’s Secret continues to dominate the market, it has earned a reputation for less-than-perfect marketing tactics toward women.

In October 2014, Victoria’s Secret launched a campaign for their new bra line called BODY. Equipped with the tagline, “The Perfect “BODY””, advertisements displayed visibly Photoshopped, undeviating images of models promoting a conventional and unrealistic appearance of perfection.

The Perfect “Body” Is not One Size Fits All

The marketing strategy received a frosty welcome from people who believe the perfect body comes in all shapes and sizes. The advertisement sparked a group of U.K. women to wage their own campaign against the underwear giant, creating an online petition on The petition called for the brand to “apologize and take responsibility for the unhealthy and damaging message that their ‘Perfect Body’ campaign sends about women’s bodies and how they should be judged.” The petition, which garnered more than 33,000 signatures, also demanded that Victoria’s Secret change the wording of their advertisement, deeming it “harmful marketing.”

One of the petition’s authors, Frances Black, took to social media to call out the retailer, tweeting a photo of herself in front of the Victoria’s Secret ad clutching a handmade sign with the hashtag #iamperfect. Twitter users were encouraged to create their own #iamperfect tweets to send to Victoria’s Secret via Twitter.


Competitors Redefine the Perfect Body Shape

In contrast to the Victoria’s Secret ad, Dear Kate, another women’s underwear company, gained media attention by replicating the photo using non-models clad in their underwear.

Victoria’s Secret did not issue an apology or statement regarding their campaign’s criticism, but they did remove the advertisement with the offending slogan, replacing it with the tagline, “A Body for Every Body,” on their in-store and online ads.

Victoria’s Secret experienced firsthand that consumers want brands that display authentic and transparent practices. Honest communication between companies and consumers can foster a positive relationship and drive brand loyalty. Brands such as Dove and Aerie have listened to their audiences, and revamped their marketing strategies to produce ads without retouching that feature real women instead of celebrities or models. By demonstrating these brands’ values to consumers, they’ve managed to reinvigorate brand curiosity in their favor.

Marketing Misfires Can Go Viral

If marketing strategies receive frosty criticism from the public, brands can count on their misfire spreading like wildfire. People will watch the story reported on the news. Radio broadcasters will discuss the incident during the morning commute. Social media outlets will light up like a Christmas tree generating hashtags. And people will troll the company’s social media pages, heckling the brand through public posts.

Companies need to listen to their audiences and embrace their opinions with solid marketing strategies, like Dove and Aeire. When marketing strategies align with consumers’ values, companies find success not only with their sales, but also with brand loyalty.

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Every good marketing campaign is rooted in a strong strategic foundation.

Strategic planning helps us determine who our audiences are, what kinds of messages they’ll interact with and where we should put our marketing dollars to get the best return on investment.

Over the next few weeks, we will explain three different types of strategic planning that help your business overcome challenges and achieve its goals. These three areas are business strategy, marketing strategy and communications strategy.

Don’t Let Your Company Be the Bear in the Woods

To establish the importance of strategic direction, let’s start with a great metaphor from the team at Brain Traffic on the importance strategy plays in marketing.

The bear in this picture has a goal to catch fish. His tactic is to open his mouth, and his strategy is to stand where the fish are jumping. When you have a strategy and a tactic, you will achieve your goal.

Bear catching fish

The bear below has the same goal of catching fish and the same tactic of opening his mouth, but this one lacks a strategy.

Bear in field

Without a strategy, you’re just a bear standing in the woods with your mouth open. Don’t let your company be this bear!

3 Types of Strategic Planning That Grow your Business

Every client and business situation is different, making it useful to take a look at each of these types of strategic planning for an understanding of which is the best option to help solve your company’s challenges.

What Is a Business Strategy?

Companies that seek a business strategy are looking for help defining a profitable business model. Common starting points for business strategies include defining the company vision and the company goals.

Business Strategy

A business strategy also covers the question on many people’s minds: How do we grow our business when we’ve hit a plateau?

Our strategy team leverages a classic model to evaluate four options that grow businesses:

1. Market Penetration

2. Product Development

3. Market Development

4. Diversification Strategies

If your company has hit a plateau with sales, it may be time to re-evaluate your business strategy. The first step in this process is meeting with a strategic expert to help you identify areas of growth for your business.

What Is a Marketing strategy?

Marketing strategies are useful for motivating customers to choose your brand. This starts by gaining a thorough understanding of your brand positioning and why current customers are loyal to your company, products or services over competitive alternatives.

Marketing Strategy

Gaining focus of your company’s positioning starts with an understanding of three key positioning pillars:

1. Brand Foundation

A thorough understanding of your brand, including emotional and rational reasons why customers choose your brand over another.

2. Target Customers

Your current and potential customers, including profiles and personas summarizing the process behind your customers’ purchase decisions.

3. Competitive Landscape

Your closest competitors clarify what sets you apart in the market. In other words, why your target would or should choose you over competitive alternatives.

When taking the marketing strategy approach, we evaluate whether your brand position meets three criteria: is it unique, compelling and believable? If your position passes this test, then your customers will easily understand what sets you apart from competitors.

If a brand position does not pass this test, then we need to uncover the essence of your brand to discover a position that will resonate with your customers. At Risdall, we have many tools including positioning workshops to accomplish this task.

What Is a Communications Strategy?

The communications strategy brings your brand position to life with meaningful messages that reach your target audience where they’re the most active. Your strategic marketing expert can help you decide which tools in the communications strategy toolbox will earn the best results.

Communications Stategy

Communications strategies combine three elements: a creative strategy brief, a campaign idea and an engagement plan that is sure to reach your audience. The one-page strategy brief guides all written and creative materials, and is designed in a way so anyone creating a communication or creative piece can easily understand your brand’s positioning and guidelines for messaging in just one page.

When to Enlist Help from a Strategy Team

Sometimes a company’s issues with growth are black and white – easy for everyone to see. On the other hand, sometimes employees are so close to their company that they cannot identify the challenge they are facing. Even though they can’t put their finger on the problem, they know it exists because their sales show it.

This situation is when it is most beneficial for companies to bring in strategic experts to help identify challenges and propose solutions. When strategic experts are brought in, we will start with these questions: What is your company’s goal?  What is working? What is not working?

The answers to these questions determine which type of strategic planning will be most beneficial to your company. Based on the answers, we can identify a roadmap to success.

Measuring Results from Strategic Planning

Strategy is considered a foundational activity for marketing campaigns. It is difficult to measure the return on investment (ROI) of strategic planning and research because in many cases the ROI is attributed to the tactical elements that are developed from the strategic foundation.

An experienced strategic professional always tries to make every activity as measurable as possible. We start our strategic planning by setting a goal that defines what we intend to achieve from this process. Then we can attribute statistics such as pre- and post-awareness tracking on campaigns, sales results and digital analytics (eg. click-throughs) to the product or service we are promoting.

If you’re considering a marketing campaign, it makes sense to invest 10% of your budget in strategic planning to make sure your marketing tactics will resonate with customers. After all, you don’t want to be the bear standing in the woods with its mouth hanging open!

Want some help planning your marketing campaign?  Get in touch with one of our marketing experts.

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